Rise of the Lever Gun: Henry & Marlin Enter 21st Century
Everybody loves quick shot-to-shot follow-up, but not everyone loves (or can have) semi-autos.
The curtain came up on a number of very interesting things at the NRA Annual Meetings in Indianapolis this past weekend, but a new trend in long guns made a surprising debut: Henry Repeating Arms and Marlin both introduced new, updated versions of the tried-and-true lever guns that have been riding in our scabbards since the Civil War. Suspend your eye-roll for just a moment: This actually makes a lot of sense, and here’s why.
With just a bit of practice, lever-action rifles can offer a rapid shot-to-shot follow-up that’s faster than a bolt-action. The round-nose ammunition that is traditionally used in lever guns can’t reach out as far as the modern bullet profiles, but if you live in the East chances are that you rarely have the opportunity for a shot on game that’s longer than 200 yards anyway. Furthermore, if you live somewhere that semi-automatics are heavily regulated or difficult to own (like California, or upstate New York), getting your hands on a lever gun is certainly going to be much less of a headache. Here’s the scoop on two new lever guns that actually have me wanting to throw on a cowboy hat and spurs… (Oh, who am I kidding? I’m wearing them right now.)
Henry Side Gate Lever Action Rifle
Henry’s repeater first hit the American market back when we were still trying to figure out what America actually is–the Civil War–and it’s been largely unchanged since then. After all, it ain’t broke…so why fix it? That’s why it’s real news that the Henry Side Gate Lever Action rifle marks the very first time the company has offered a lever action rifle with a loading gate. If you’re not a fan of such newfangled technologies, worry not: The rifle can also be loaded through a removable magazine tube, making it a unique proposition in lever-action offerings.
The side loading gate below the ejection port allows the user to fully load the rifle’s 5-round magazine or keep it topped off without removing the magazine tube. The rifle’s removable magazine tube provides another method of loading the rifle and a safe, efficient way of unloading the rifle without having to work the action to cycle live rounds through the action.
The new Henry Side Gate is offered in calibers 30-30, 38-55 and 35 Rem. The receiver of the rifle utilizes Henry’s signature hardened brass, which has the same tensile and yield strength as steel, and comes drilled and tapped to accept a scope base. The American walnut stock is laser engraved with deep checkering and scrollwork, with the forearm inset with the “HENRY” name. The round 20-inch blued steel barrel uses rifling with varying twist rates depending on the caliber and features a fully adjustable semi-buckhorn rear sight and an ivory bead front sight. There are no external safety features on the Side Gate Lever Action rifle. A patented in-hammer sliding transfer bar safety guarantees the rifle will not fire unless the hammer is cocked and the trigger is pulled. The manufacturers suggested retail price is $1,045. Click here for more.
Marlin Dark Series
Another big surprise at the NRA Show was the dramatic introduction of the world’s first tactical lever action…blacked-out and tricked out for the modern hunter. Marlin’s Dark Series rifles feature a stealthy-tough matte black parkerized finish and a black-webbed hardwood stock/fore-end, with a host of performance enhancements, including a threaded barrel, big-loop lever and XS Lever Rail with ghost ring peep that also accommodates a wide variety of optics. Available in .30-30 Win. and .45-70 Gov’t., these rifles both offer MSRPs of $949. More information is available here.
I’ll leave you GGD readers with one final thought:
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